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Optical Engineering • Open Access

James Webb Space Telescope: large deployable cryogenic telescope in space

Paper Abstract

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is an infrared space telescope designed to explore four major science themes: first light and reionization, the assembly of galaxies, the birth of stars and protoplanetary systems, and planetary systems and origins of life. JWST is a segmented architecture telescope with an aperture of 6.6 m. It will operate at cryogenic temperature (40 K), achieved via passive cooling, in an orbit about the Earth-Sun second Lagrange point (L2). Passive cooling is facilitated by means of a large sunshield that provides thermal isolation and protection from direct illumination from the Sun. The large size of the telescope and spacecraft systems require that they are stowed for launch in a configuration that fits the Ariane 5 fairing, and then deployed after launch. Routine wavefront sensing and control measurements are used to achieve phasing of the segmented primary mirror and initial alignment of the telescope. A suite of instruments will provide the capability to observe over a spectral range from 0.6- to 27-μm wavelengths with imaging and spectroscopic configurations. An overview is presented of the architecture and selected optical design features of JWST are described.

Paper Details

Date Published: 3 February 2012
PDF: 20 pages
Opt. Eng. 51(1) 011003 doi: 10.1117/1.OE.51.1.011003
Published in: Optical Engineering Volume 51, Issue 1
Show Author Affiliations
Paul A. Lightsey, Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. (United States)
Charles B. Atkinson, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems (United States)
Mark C. Clampin, NASA Goddard Space Flight Ctr. (United States)
Lee D. Feinberg, NASA Goddard Space Flight Ctr. (United States)

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